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You Can Buy Vettriano Fine Art Reproduction Oil Paintings at Galerie Dada


Britain ’s Best Loved Oil Painting

Cognoscenti may dismiss the list as the art work of a country that does not know much about art but knows what it likes on a nice birthday card.

Populists may hail it as a triumph of popular taste over critics, conceptualists and postmodernists. And regionalists may regret that only two of the artworks on the list are in art galleries outside London .

The Today programme and National Gallery summer scheme to find Britain 's greatest painting was billed as an exciting, inclusive chance to celebrate art but it is already stirring up some silly season controversy.

‘Did anyone else notice that the poll was originally described as being for, specifically, not Britain ’s greatest, but its 'best-loved' painting?’ asks Noggin on Today's website message board. This changed a few days later. Why?

After this shift of focus, the panel of three (a critic, an artist, and a BBC governor) charged with whittling down the submissions to a list of 10 decided they would include their own expert preferences.

First they excluded Jack Vettriano, whose works have graced countless greetings cards, and then they interfered with an old master. ‘There was a Rembrandt on the list [Girl at a Window] which was the most popular voted for,’ the artist Jonathan Yeo said on the programme yesterday.

‘We on the panel, in our subjective way, all thought that wasn’t one of his best.’

In the end, no work by Rembrandt made it to the final list. Nor did any oil painting from the 21st century.

Other surprising omissions include Francis Bacon, Pablo Picasso and Lucian Freud.

The most recent work was David Hockney’s Mr and Mrs Clark and Percy (1970-71),82 years younger than the next on the list, Van Gogh’s Sunflowers (1888). Half the works in the top 10 date from the 19th century and the oldest, The Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck (whether Mrs Arnolfini is pregnant is another controversy) was painted in 1434.

Six of the paintings are by British artists, including Turner’s The Fighting Temeraire (1839), although, in yet another aesthetic dispute, there is now some doubt about whether Sir Henry Raeburn actually painted The Rev Dr Robert Walker Skating on Ouddingston Loch (1784), another finalist.

Earlier this year, a senior curator at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery said he thought it was the work of an obscure French artist called Henri-Pierre Oanloux.

He claimed the canvas does not match the type normally used by Raeburn and is much smaller than his other artworks.

The National Gallery of Scotland in Edinburgh would probably like to know the truth.

But for the moment it is happy to use the graceful Dr Walker as a house mascot, with his elegant image available on fridge magnets, postcards and other souvenirs.

Listeners are now invited to vote for their favourite from the list, with the winner acclaimed live on September 5 by Today presenter James Naughtie and the director of the National Gallery, Charles Saumarez Smith.

Meanwhile, the art-for-arts-sake debate continues to rage on the Today message board.

‘lf you had to choose between painting crap to earn an honest crust or producing wonderful works of art which nobody wanted to buy, which would you choose?’ asks Nicelegs.

‘No wonder Van Gogh committed suicide. He should have painted crap (which I believe his brother advised him to do), had decent food, plenty of wine and a different model every night. Then he might have enjoyed a few laughs instead of severing his ear.’

"The colours, the angst and frustration of unrequited love are all there, painted with such aggression and turmoil. Great artist. Not so bright upstairs."